Congressional Republican leaders and the Obama administration are trying to cut a deal that avoids a government shutdown in October while facing what could be an even bigger fight over the nation’s debt ceiling in the rest of the year.
An agreement to keep the government operating at current spending levels through October and November would head off a politically costly disruption of federal services but still leave a clash looming, like the one that roiled the economy two years ago, over a possible government default. Neither party has come up with a way out of a debt showdown.
“Right now there isn’t a plan, unfortunately, in Washington,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has been one of eight Republicans negotiating with the White House over the budget. He said lawmakers and the White House can’t seem to act until deadlines are at hand and the pressure for a breakthrough is intense.
The double dose of a short-term spending measure that expires in November and a debt limit deadline does create the kind of drama that prompts action.
The coming budget fights mark a new season of uncertainty, which has emerged as an annual rite in Washington. This time the ritual is complicated further by President Barack Obama’s pending nomination of a Fed chairman to replace Ben Bernanke, whose term is ending.